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04/13/2016 at 07:00 PM

Joined by a bi-partisan coalition of mayors from across Monmouth and Ocean County as well as New Jersey Citizen Action, the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, the Belmar St. Vincent de Paul Society and various small business owners, seniors, homeowners and renters at Federici’s on 10th restaurant in Belmar, Mayor Matt Doherty today vowed to fight New Jersey Natural Gas’ proposed 24 percent rate increase.  According to the Asbury Park Press, nj.com and the Patch.com, the rate increase represents an additional $21.69 increase in an average customer’s monthly bill and is being proposed at the same time NJNG’s top five executives received nearly $13 million in compensation in 2015, which is up over 125% in the last two years.

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Among the elected officials joining Mayor Doherty today were Brick Township Mayor John Ducey, Ocean Township Mayor Chris Siciliano, Aberdeen Mayor Fred Tagliarini, Manasquan Mayor Ed Donovan, Roosevelt Mayor Jeff Ellentuck and Lake Como Mayor Brian Wilton.


Doherty and the bi-partisan Say No To 24 Coalition released Belmar’s Council resolution against NJNG’s rate hike, began signing people up to join them in protest at hearings in Freehold to examine the rate hike proposal and called upon local governments throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties to join them in passing their own resolutions and to stand and fight against the rate hikes.


“We have worked hard in Belmar to live within our means and continue to do more with less while providing our residents an increased level of service with no municipal tax increase over the past six years and New Jersey Natural Gas should do the same,” said Mayor Doherty. “Twenty one dollars a month is money for food, money for prescriptions, money for gas in people’s cars . . . money people do not have to spare.  New Jersey Natural Gas’ rate hike proposal would be unconscionable under any circumstances but is even more egregious given the millions of dollars in increased compensation being doled out to NJNG’s top five executives.  We are asking elected officials across Monmouth and Ocean Counties to join us in passing their own resolutions and to come with us to the hearings in Freehold on April 27 to fight on behalf of middle class families, small business owners, seniors and every other person who will be negatively impacted by this outrageous rate hike.”


“Hard working families are being told they need to make household sacrifices while the executives at New Jersey Natural Gas are compensated millions of dollars for simply doing their jobs,” said New Jersey Citizen Action Associate Executive Director Dena Mottola Jaborska.  “The people impacted by NJNG’s proposed rate hike shouldn’t be forced to pay for five people’s raises and a corporate bottom line in order to heat their homes.  We are proud to stand and fight on behalf of working families and we will be helping Mayor Doherty organize against this greedy corporate money grab.”


“While so many swiss replica watches continue to try and regain their economic footing and work towards fiscal recovery following the worst economic collapse in our country since the Great Depression, it is unconscionable to see a public utility company balancing their fiscal bottom line on the backs of middle class and working class families,” said Brianna Earle the Legislative Coordinator of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance.  “What’s worse is the realization that, while so many would be forced to figure out how to find the money in their household budgets to pay this huge rate hike, five executives are taking home nearly $13 million in compensation.  We are proud to stand with Mayor Doherty in the fight to get New Jersey Natural Gas to rescind their outrageous rate hike request before they do irreparable financial harm to families throughout the region.”


Federici’s on 10th in Belmar and Federici’s Family Restaurant in Freehold co-owner Michael Federici, talked about the fact that NJNG’s rate hike would increase his monthly bill by $301.88 and his annual bill by $3,622.58 in his Belmar restaurant alone.


"As a small business owner we watch every dollar, even small increases can mean the difference between turning a profit or not,” said Federici.  “This much of an increase would be extremely painful for a small business like us.  We work from month to month to make sure our restaurants flourish and our employees earn a decent living and it’s good to know that leaders like Mayor Doherty and the other members of this Coalition are fighting for small business owners like myself.”


Doherty and members of the Say No To 24 Coalition will attend the rate hike hearings on April 27 at the Freehold Township Municipal Building, 1 Municipal Plaza-Schanck Road, Freehold Township at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Interested parties who would like to attend the Freehold hearings should sign up via email at SayNoTo24@gmail.com.  Transportation from Belmar will be provided.


NJNG’s petition has been filed with the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) but is currently in front of an administrative law judge.



Suggested Resolution for local governments:




WHEREAS, New Jersey Natural Gas is a public utility operating in the Borough of Belmar, County of Monmouth providing natural gas energy to our residents and businesses; and


WHEREAS, New Jersey Natural Gas has proposed raising gas rates by 24% on Belmar residents and business; and

WHEREAS, The proposed 24% rate increase by New Jersey Natural Gas would increase an average Belmar homeowner’s gas bill by $260.00 a year; and

WHEREAS, while proposing such an increase, New Jersey Natural Gas paid their top executives $13 Million in total compensation in 2015, a number 125% higher than 2013; and

WHEREAS, Belmar Mayor & Council have worked to keep Belmar’s municipal taxes flat for 6 years to attempt to keep Belmar an affordable place for working class families and senior citizens; and

WHEREAS, Belmar residents and business owners cannot afford to see their utility rates increase by 24%; and

WHEREAS, Belmar Mayor & Council have an obligation to advocate on behalf of their residents and business owners

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Mayor & Council of the Borough of Belmar in the County of Monmouth, that the 24% rate increase proposed New Jersey Natural Gas is excessive and unreasonable burden to Belmar’s residents and business owners and must not be implemented; and


LET IT BE FURHTER RESOLVED that the Mayor & Council of the Borough of Belmar call upon all elected officials and government agencies in a position to block this increase do so in the best interests of Belmar citizens and business.

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